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VICTORY FOR GUN SAFETY IN THE COURTS: Illinois Supreme Court Upholds State Prohibition on Assault Weapons, Large Capacity Magazines

August 11, 2023

CHICAGO – Today, in a groundbreaking victory for gun safety in the courts, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled to uphold the state’s prohibition on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. 

Today’s news comes as more than 2,000 grassroots volunteers, students and survivors of gun violence gather in Chicago for Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund’s Gun Sense University, a three-day annual training conference that brings together leaders of the gun violence prevention movement from all 50 states and Washington D.C. to share best practices, participate in training sessions about effective organizing, find community among advocates and prepare for crucial work heading into 2024. 

The case before the Illinois Supreme Court focused on the constitutionality, under the Illinois state constitution, of two provisions of the newly-enacted Protect Illinois Communities Act, provisions to restrict the sale, purchase, manufacture, and possession of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. The law was signed just months following the deadly mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park where a shooter, wielding an assault weapon and large-capacity magazines, killed 7 people and injured 48 more. 

“Weapons and accessories designed for the battlefield shouldn’t have a place in our communities,” said Nick Suplina, Senior Vice President for Law and Public Policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. “Communities across Illinois cannot afford another tragedy like Highland Park to occur and today’s decision by the Illinois Supreme Court ensures that we can keep these deadly weapons of war off our streets.”

“For years, moms, students, survivors of gun violence and other community safety advocates fought hard to pass comprehensive gun safety legislation in Illinois,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, Executive Director of Moms Demand Action. “Today’s decision by the Illinois Supreme Court is an incredible victory for our dedicated volunteers who were relentless in their advocacy to pass this life-saving legislation, especially in the aftermath of the tragedy in Highland Park.”

“Earlier this year, following the tireless advocacy of Illinois’ chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, our state took a huge step in preventing gun violence in our communities by banning weapons and accessories of war,” said Sheri Williams, co-chapter lead of the Illinois chapter of Moms Demand Action. “The Supreme Court’s decision today put public safety over the gun lobby’s agenda, and our families will all be safer because of it.”

From 2015 to 2022, shootings with four or more people killed where assault weapons were used resulted in nearly six times as many people shot, more than twice as many people killed, and 23 times as many people wounded per incident, on average. Additionally, since 2015, at least eight of the ten deadliest mass shooting incidents involved an assault weapon and a large-capacity magazine. 

To date, 10 states and Washington D.C. have enacted laws to prohibit assault weapons, and 14 states and Washington, D.C. have enacted laws to prohibit large-capacity magazines. Litigation challenging the Illinois law under the Second Amendment is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which heard oral argument on June 29.

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